Fair trade

Windward Islands bananasFair Trade is a method of trading which aims to provide direct and effective support for marginalised producers from developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For over 50 years now, Fair Trade has been an efficient way of improving working and living conditions for small-scale farmers and craftspeople throughout the developing world. Bananas have been alternatively traded since the 1980s by Fair-Trade-organisations such as BanaFair, gebana and Oxfam Wereldwinkels, that are today associated with the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). The first – bananas labelled by Fairtrade International were sold in 1996. Bananas now symbolise the successes (and challenges) of Fairtrade International certification scheme and are one of the top-selling fairly traded products, with market shares ranging from 10 to 50% in several European countries. The minimum prices paid for Fairtrade certified bananas have saved thousands of small farmers from being squeezed out of the market. The Fairtrade premium has also led to tangible benefits for these farming communities.

Most fairly traded bananas, pineapples or other tropical fruits carry the Fairtrade Mark used by Fairtrade International (FI). Fairtrade International runs a product certification scheme that has experienced enormous popularity in the past 15 years but has also been the subject of some criticism – see Certification. There are also a number of established Fair Trade organisations conforming to the rules of Fairtrade International, or even going further, that do not use the Fairtrade Mark on their products, but for example the WFTO guarantee label.

5 basic principles of Fair Trade

  • Paying a fair price – Producers get a fair price, covering the cost of production, cost of decent living and a reasonable profit.
  • No child labour – Child labour in all its forms is prohibited – especially when it harms the children’s education or their physical health and mental development.
  • Decent working conditions –Workers on plantations, farms, in processing plants and other businesses work in decent and safe conditions and receive a living wage.
  • Development of local communities – A significant part of the income from fair trade is invested into development projects in producer communities. These projects include the provision of drinking water, construction of roads, educational and health facilities, covering costs of education and vocational training, healthcare, microfinance etc.
  • Environmental sustainability – Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are excluded from the Fair Trade system. Additionally those production techniques are supported that preserve valuable ecosystems and protect the health of both producers and consumers.